Shortstop Kevin Newman’s future is far from clear. What options do the Pittsburgh Pirates have with him next season?
One of the positive stories from the Pittsburgh Pirates 2021 season was Kevin Newman’s defensive breakout. After spending the first few years of his career as one of the worst defensive shortstops in the league, Newman put on a display of excellent glovework at the middle infield spot this past year.
Newman racked up +7 DRS, a +7.6 UZR/150, and was in the top 82nd percentile of outs above average. Newman ranked 6th among all qualified shortstops in DRS but was the second-best NL shortstop per the measurement. However, his +7.6 UZR/150 was the best among all shortstops.
But there was also a massive downside to Newman’s season. He was one of the worst batters in major league baseball last season. Newman posted just a .226/.265/.309 line, .249 wOBA, and 54 wRC+. He ranked last in OPS, wOBA, and wRC+ among all hitters with at least 500 plate appearances. Just to show how bad his season was, the second-worst batter in the league, David Fletcher had a 70 wRC+, making him 14% better than Newman.
Newman will be going into his age-28 season. The Pirates have multiple avenues they can take with the middle infielder. So what do each of those options look like and what are the pros and cons of each.